My 18th Birthday
As this milestone birthday approached, I was thinking that I had lived a full and interesting life. I guess I had an over-active imagination, and I was wondering if I would live beyond this anniversary of my birth. I finally concluded I might die on that day, and if I did not die on that day, I would probably live to be 100 years old. I made my peace with life and death by the time the day arrived.
On my birthday, I went downtown with a few friends to see a Broadway show. I remember being very tired. I dressed up in stockings and heels and my friends and I took the elevated line from the Bronx down into the subway to Manhattan. It was all very exciting. We had wonderful seats in the theater, and the play was dramatic and engrossing. Still, I had to work at staying awake when the lights went out.
At intermission, I walked up the carpeted stairs to the Ladies Room. As I started back down the stairs, my heel caught on the carpet and I went tumbling down. I closed my eyes, and I think I fell asleep. I remember feeling very relaxed and peaceful, and far away. When I awoke, I was on the floor with people standing around and talking to me, with my knee scraped and my hose ripped. I was in some pain from my knee, but mostly I felt embarrassed. So I told the people I was fine, went back to my seat, and watched the rest of the play.
When the play was over, my friends and I decided to make our way backstage to meet the actors and actresses. Not wanting to be held up by the crowds, and not really having any idea how to get backstage, we ran to a door near the stage that said EXIT. When we got through that door there were about 5 concrete steps that led down to a door to the street. Unfortunately, the door was locked, and would not open from the inside. So we went back up the 5 steps only to find that the door to the theater was also locked and did not open from our side.
Since I had thought all along that I might not live past this day, I was pretty fatalistic and accepting about it, and – although it was really cold in that little stairwell – I just wanted to curl up and go to sleep. My friends were a bit more active about our situation, and so we all agreed to bang on the doors and scream and yell, until someone might hear us and rescue us. (These were the olden days, before cell phones.)
It did take quite awhile, and I remember we wondered if anyone could possibly hear us after people left the theater and the street. However, eventually, someone did hear us and arranged to get us out. So I guess I may live to be 100 years old.
(In truth, I cannot recall whether it was my 16th or my 18th birthday, but the rest of it I recall vividly.)